Saturday, December 17, 2011

2011 Korea Grand Prix Gold


Unfortunately, the only ones to continue on to Korea Grand Prix Gold were me, Grace, and Joycelyn. Joyce decided to spend a few days in Hong Kong to rest her knee, while Grace and I headed off to Korea on the Friday of Macau Grand Prix Gold. We went to Iksan, Kim Dong Moon's hometown and he graciously picked us up from the bus depot and dropped us off to the Won Kwang University, where we stayed at the International student dorm. The room had a single bed, a desk, a bathroom, a wardrobe and fridge and was pretty good for a dorm room. There was internet and a heated floor as well! We were there for only 3 nights and would leave to Hwasun, the tournament city, on Monday. We trained with the University team for a few sessions and did our own session at Kim Dong Moon's Badminton Facility! It was a really big club with about 20 courts! See below for some shots of his venue:

Dorm room at Won Kwang University
Kim Dong Moon Badminton Gym in Iksan, Korea
Inside the KDM Badminton Facility

Joyce came in late Sunday night and we made arrangements to go to Hwasun for the next morning. We had to take a taxi to the bus station and took about a 1.5 hour bus to another city, Gwang Ju. From there, we had to take a 30 minute taxi to Hwasun. We went directly to the main venue, the Hanium Stadium. We just made it in time for practice and bumped into our Korean friend Lee Haeng Ham, who came to train with us in Calgary for about 10 months in 2009, but is now back on the Korean National team. After our practice, we headed back to the hotel to rest a bit before dinner.

Gwang Ju bus station + mall
Hanium Stadium
Hwasun is a very small town and there wasn't very much to do around the hotel area. There were a few restaurants and we ended up eating at a Chinese-styled Korean restaurant. It's still very much Korean food, though it was a first time for Joyce. We bumped into a couple of members from the Dae Kyo company team that Grace knew at the restaurant, but I ended up ordering the food because I could read a bit of the menu. I can read a bit of the Korean 'alphabet' (Hangul), so it helps tremendously sometimes :) Dinner was really good and we headed back to the hotel as there was nothing to do.

Korean style Sweet and Sour (Tang Su Yuk) 
Spicy noodles with seafood (Jjam ppong)
The next day, we went down to the breakfast but unfortunately, it was a very traditional breakfast. Basically it was rice, various side dishes, spicy pork, and a spicy seaweed soup (I think). It was toughest for Joyce because she didn't eat spicy, as well as the European players there probably. I didn't mind, but they did give some bread as well, so for those who didn't like the Korean breakfast, there was toast with jam. After breakfast we headed off to the practice venue at a middle school. The gym was very cold, so it took a while to warm up. After the practice, Joyce and I went around to look for Korean laundry detergent, because we were determined to find that Korean laundry smell :P Unfortunately, we weren't too sure so we headed back to catch the shuttle to go back to the hotel.



After lunch, there wasn't too much to do so we hung around the hotel. To make things more boring, the internet in my room died, so I ended up playing Angry Birds for like, 2 hours. Later though, Haeng Ham called and we were able to go do some grocery shopping thanks to a ride from Kim Ki Jung! We got some snacks and drinks from the store and finally determined what kind of laundry detergent they were using! :) Afterwards, we headed back and ended up having dinner at this chicken place. There was fried and grilled chicken and they were both delicious :)

Korean Laundry stuff!
The tournament finally started for us on Wednesday, and unfortunately it also finished that day as well. I started off at 10am with MS because I forgot I entered, followed by my XD at 11:10am. The scheduling was pretty terrible I guess, but I made sure I didn't get too tired from the MS. It was pretty cool though, because Ha Tae Kwon was my umpire! After finishing my MS in about 20 minutes, I proceeded to continue to warm up for my XD. We had a closer first set, but things started falling apart in the second. Rallies weren't too bad, but we just ended up losing most of them, hence the score. We returned to the hotel, had lunch, and got ready for Joyce and Grace's WD match later in the evening. Their match didn't go so well either so we just went back after and had more chicken...


Thursday, I headed off early to watch some matches in the morning, then went to practice in the afternoon. After, we went back to the venue for some matches and we went for dinner with Haeng Ham and his family at a nearby Korean BBQ restaurant! They treated us to dinner and we had a pretty good time. I thought we would share a bottle of soju, but in the end only Haeng Ham and I drank so that was like... half a bottle of soju each. I was kind of buzzed, but it was okay with the food I guess :P It was so nice of them to take us out and we will definitely have to return the hospitality next time!

LEE Haeng Ham and his sister Ye Ji
Friday was our final day in Korea, as we got transportation to the bus station in Gwang Ju. There was a bit of snow that morning, but nothing major. I tried to convince Joyce to try the Korean sauna/spa the night before and actually succeeded, but they were closed by the time we were about to go, so I woke her up earlier on Friday morning to try it out. Basically, it's just a communal bath/shower area so it pretty much involves getting naked and showering/bathing with other people. It's quite relaxing as they have different pools of water of various temperatures, a cold pool, a sauna, and sometimes a steam room and other various things. I guess it's normal for guys, but it's probably a lot more uncomfortable for the girls hahaha...

Getting a little bit white in Hwasun
We took an express bus from Gwang Ju straight to the Incheon airport, which took about 4.5 hours or so. We had a 15 minute rest stop which really helped and I think we may have got there earlier. We checked in without any difficulties and spent the rest of the time in the Asiana lounge! It was quite nice and they offered a large variety of food, including shrimp scallion japchae! They also had showers which was nice before the flight :) We soon boarded and were headed home...
Cup noodle + japchae



It was a long trip, but it wasn't entirely over yet. With just a couple of days rest at home, we all had to go to Moncton, New Brunswick for the Canadian Internaional. It's on the East side of Canada which meant a long flight over, but that's for the next blog... ;)


Full Results via Tournament Software: [KOREA GRAND PRIX GOLD]

Matches via YouTube:
XD R32:
 KIM Sa Rang/CHOI Hye In [KOR] vs. Toby NG/Grace GAO [CAN]
Full Match

WD R32:
 YOO Hyun Young/CHOI Ah Reum [KOR] vs. CHIEMI Yano/TAKAGI Miki [JPN]
Full Match

MD R32:
KWON Yi Goo/SHIN Baek Choel [KOR] vs. OW Yao Han/TAN Wee Kiong [MAS] (Incomplete)
Game 1 & 2

XD R16: TAO Jia Ming/XIA Huan [CHN] vs. KIM Sa Rang/CHOI Hye In [KOR]
Full Match

XD R16:
Danny CHRISNANTA/Vanessa NEO [SIN] vs. CHOI Sol Kyu/CHAE Yoo Jung [KOR] (Incomplete)
Game 2 & 3

WS R16:
HWANG Hye Youn [KOR] vs. CHEN Xiao Jia [CHN] (Incomplete)
Game 2 & 3


Enjoy! Thanks for visiting my blog!

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